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Posted June 23, 2006 EST

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Action To Cut Fires
Fire and health chiefs have teamed up to tackle the number of house blazes sparked by smoking. Cleveland Fire Brigade and Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust have developed an initiative to fit special flame-retardant bed packs which don't catch fire.

In the past year 26 house fires in Cleveland brigade area were caused by smoking - 16 in the Middlesbrough district, where the scheme is being piloted.

The brigade currently fit fire safety equipment such as smoke alarms for free as part of home fire safety checks.

Through these checks, those who would benefit from having non- combustible bed packs and chair throws will be identified.

But a brigade spokeswoman said: "These are only a control measure and the safest and healthiest option is to give up smoking altogether."

Ed Parish, brigade community safety liaison manager said: "We have teamed up with Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust to help reduce the number of fires in the home caused by smoking.

"Middlesbrough PCT has provided the funding for a limited number of bed packs and throws that are flame retardant.

"We will be delegating these packs to those who we feel are most at risk such as smokers who have limited mobility such as a person who is bed-bound or in a wheelchair.

"This initiative is a pilot but hopefully, if it proves to be successful we will be able to extend it throughout Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar if we can get enough funding."

Sue Barnard, of Middlesbrough PCT, said: "This pilot project is invaluable in helping to prevent house fires caused by smoking.

"People at risk can also be offered information about giving up smoking and the harmful effects of second-hand smoking in the home"

Written by Evening Gazette - Middlesbrough

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